Friday, July 18, 2014

How Many Americans Smoke?



This blog answered that question a few years ago, saying it was “either 45.3 million or 52.7 million in 2010, depending on which federal agency does the counting. This wide variance [among adults 18+ years] of age underscores the discordant findings from government smoking data.” (here)

I wrote, “It is unacceptable that two federal surveys differ by over 7 million in their adult smoking counts. Even worse is the way the government uses the divergent data to spin different stories about smoking.  They use the lower [National Health Interview Survey] numbers [43.5 million] to boast about declining smoking rates, which they attribute to higher taxes and smoking bans. They use the higher [National Survey on Drug Use and Health] numbers [52.7 million] to argue for even more onerous anti-tobacco measures.”

The irregular counting continues today, and the discrepancy between NHIS and NSDUH is actually growing.  Earlier this year the CDC released its count for 2012, which is 42.1 million (here), based on NHIS.  My analysis of the 2012 NSDUH, which is sponsored by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), indicates that there are at least 51.6 million adult smokers.  That’s a difference of nearly 10 million smokers! 

My research sheds light on this discrepancy (here).  It’s time for the federal government to acknowledge their data conflict, and resolve it.

2 comments:

Michael J. McFadden said...

Brad, VERY well noted and analyzed. Sad how all the classic Antismoker tricks and lies continue and are migrating over to e-cigs. Not universally true of course: the "Idealists" from my Brains' categorization tend to be largely in favor of vaping, but too many of the other types -- the Greedy, the Controllers, the Moralists for example -- just roll the old cons straight on over.

:/
MJM

Bill Godshall said...

BRFSS is another CDC survey (that is conducted by states) that asks about cigarette smoking and smokeless tobacco use.

But notice (below) that current and daily smoking rates steadily declined until 2010, but then both significantly increased in 2011 (according to BRFSS).

Cigarette Smoking Rates in US
http://apps.nccd.cdc.gov/BRFSS/list.asp?cat=TU&yr=2011&qkey=8171&state=All

Year – Current Daily SomeDays
2012 - 19.6% - 13.5% vs 5.7% 2011 - 21.2% - 15.4% vs 5.7% 2010 - 17.3% - 12.4% vs 4.8% 2009 - 17.9% - 12.7% vs 5.0% 2008 - 18.4% - 13.4% vs 4.9% 2007 - 19.8% - 14.5% vs 5.2% 2006 - 20.1% - 14.9% vs 5.1% 2005 - 20.6% - 15.3% vs 5.3% 2004 – 20.9% - 15.8% vs 5.4%
2003 - 22.0% - 16.9% vs 5.1%
2002 - 23.2% - 17.8% vs 5.0%
2001 – 23.2% - 17.4% vs 5.7%
2000 – 23.2% - 17.7% vs 5.1%
1999 - 22.8% - 18.0% vs 4.8%
1998 – 22.9% - 18.5% vs 4.5%
1997 – 23.2% - 19.1% vs 4.3%
1996 - 23.5% - 19.6% vs 4.0%
1995 - 22.7% - 19.9% vs 2.6%

But the same questions about smoking were used in the 2010 and 2011 BRFSS surveys.

The BRFSS Data User Guide at
http://www.cdc.gov/brfss/data_documentation/PDF/UserguideJune2013.pdf
stated that some changes were made in the survey's sampling and methodology in 2011, which may have influenced the significant increase in current and daily smoking rates. But I couldn't find any explanation for the change in smoking rates.

But if changing the sampling and methodology in the BRFSS was responsible for the increase in smoking rates from 2010 to 2011, it may help explain the differences between NHIS and NSDUH survey data on smoking rates.

Interestingly, I couldn't find the BRFSS data for smokeless tobacco use for any year, but they asked the question every year.

Bill Godshall